Somerset, NJ – Robert J. Baran, assistant executive director of New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), was named as this year’s Emerging Nonprofit Leader by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) Center for Excellence: Leadership, Governance, Philanthropy in partnership with the Center for Non-Profits

The award was presented at the New Jersey Non-Profit Conference: Charting Our Course, Claiming Our Future on December 7, in Somerset. It was created to promote excellence in the field by recognizing and calling attention to the promise and impact of talented non-profit leaders in New Jersey.  Awardees were selected through an application process judged by an impartial volunteer panel of leaders of non-profits, business, government and organized philanthropy. 

Baran was the grand prize winner receiving a $2,500 scholarship from the Center for Excellence to enroll in their Executive Leadership Certificate programs. Two semi-finalists, Angeline M. Dean, executive director and founder, My Eternal Family and Mary Jean Barnes, Esq., executive director, Dress for Success Morris County received a $1,000 scholarship for the Center for Excellence programs, and all three were granted the Center for Non-Profits’ 2016 webinar series free of charge. 

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With less than two years in his role as assistant director at NJCASA, Baran has led significant initiatives to promote the mission of the organization and work collaboratively with New Jersey stakeholders to support survivors of sexual assault, according to Patricia Teffenhart, MPA, NJCASA’s executive director who nominated him for this award. Baran’s achievements include recently being asked by NJCASA’s largest funder to chair a statewide working group dedicated to facilitating inter-agency collaboration. Last spring under his leadership, the organization celebrated its most successful 5-K fundraiser, a major event held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Robert moved the location to the Asbury Park boardwalk, added more components to the day, and cultivated new corporate sponsors.

“I am honored to receive the Emerging Nonprofit leader Award,” expressed Baran. “The non-profit sector has changed over the years and now there are more leaders that challenge the long-held belief that this sector demands a level of martyrism. Rather than resign themselves to cobbling together services that feel oppressive to both clients and staff, these leaders use outcomes and data to advocate for additional funding and investment in social profit work… It is our job as leaders to ensure people who come to this work are valued and compensated equal to the value they bring to their roles… The clients and communities we serve deserve to feel prioritized.”

Angeline Dean was recognized as a finalist for founding My Eternal Family (MEF) in 2014. Her board of directors nominated her for being instrumental in “filling loopholes that are critical to change, working to dismantle barriers that birth systemic change and build for an overall community.” Due to Dean’s dedication, the organization believes they have established a positive reputation with all levels of law enforcement, education institutions and the greater Trenton area. Their “wholistic expungement” program has not only gained statewide recognition, but also earned them an opportunity to meet President Obama. With Dean at the helm, My Eternal Family has recently secured a grant from the New Jersey Office of Faith based Initiatives to continue their work of “bridging gaps to provide civic and community engagement.”  

Mary Jean Barnes, Esq., was also recognized as a finalist for her leadership at Dress for Success Morris County (DFSMC). The majority of Barnes’ career has been in the for-profit sector where she took advantage of educational opportunities to further develop and practice leadership skills. As the executive director of DFSMC since 2015, she has had many accomplishments including more than doubling the women served through their Mobile Program and increasing their reach to ten counties; introduced Technology Skills Workshops for clients; increased DFSMC staff; modernized all operations including implementing online donor management; and led the most profitable annual fundraising gala in the history of the organization. 

This is the fourth year the Center for Non-Profits’ statewide conference has featured the Emerging Nonprofit Leader Award.

“The Center was proud to partner with Fairleigh Dickinson’s Center for Excellence in recognizing these rising stars,” commented Linda Czipo, president and CEO of the Center for Non-Profits. “The innovation, commitment and hard work of the awardees is very inspiring to our New Jersey non-profit community.” 

"Fairleigh Dickinson is honored to present its annual Emerging Leaders Award in conjunction with the Center for Non-profits’ Conference,” stated Sally Glick, chairperson of the FDU Center for Excellence Advisory Committee and principal and chief growth strategist for Sobel & Co. “We can think of no better place to showcase leaders in the non-profit community than at this highly respected program which attracts the best and brightest non-profits across the state. We are glad to partner with the Center to celebrate our winners!"

The Fairleigh Dickinson University Center for Excellence: Leadership, Governance and Philanthropy was envisioned and established to be the leading education support and training center dedicated to ensuring effective leadership in the nonprofit community.  The programs are targeted to those who aspire to be future nonprofit leaders as well as those individuals who want to increase their skill sets and individuals seeking to increase their organization's performance and results.  Certificates are offered in Executive Nonprofit Leadership; Executive Philanthropy; Nonprofit Board Governance; and Nonprofit Essentials. For more information, visit

The Center for Non-Profits, founded in 1982, is a charitable umbrella organization serving New Jersey's nonprofit community. The Center exists to build the power of New Jersey's nonprofit community to improve the quality of life for the people of our state. Center programs include advocacy, public education, legal and management assistance, publications, workshops, and member services. For more information, visit the Center’s Web site,, or call (732) 227-0800.

Contacts:  Linda M. Czipo or Susan Merrill O’Connor, 732-227-0800

--Photos and bios of winner and finalists are available. Please contact Susan Merrill O’Connor at the Center for Non-Profits,, 732-227-0800—